BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN
Behlen Industries vice-president Sean Lepper, left, leads federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and Brandon-Souris NDP candidate Cory Szczepanski on a tour of the manufacturing plant during Mulcair’s visit to the Wheat City on Monday afternoon.
Standing in Behlen Industries’ Brandon factory, federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair was subtly interrupted by his assistant with the news that there was a "second cheque" in the ever-growing Senate scandal.
Federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair addresses members of the Brandon Sun editorial board during his stop in the city on Monday. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)
Just moments earlier in Ottawa, Sen. Mike Duffy revealed to the upper chamber that the prime minister’s chief of staff not only paid him $90,000 to cover housing expenses, but that he also received a second cheque for $13,560 to pay his legal bills.
While machinery hissed behind him, it was Mulcair who turned into the buzzsaw, taking dead aim at Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
"We’ve seen a succession of events where Stephen Harper has said one thing one day and contradicted himself the next," Mulcair said. "Whether it’s on the number of people in his office that knew about it. Whether it’s if Nigel Wright was fired or he resigned. Or whether there was a second cheque to cover Mike Duffy’s expenses."
Duffy remains at the epicentre of an investigation that began after Wright, then the prime minister’s right-hand man, issued a $90,000 cheque to cover the embattled senator’s housing expenses.
The second cheque, according to Duffy, was issued by the Conservative party’s lawyer.
Duffy suggested the PMO would have only offered to pay the costs "if he felt my expense claims were improper."
"(The second cheque) is something else that’s not going to square with the rest of Stephen Harper’s story," said Mulcair, who was in town to support Cory Szczepanski, the party’s candidate for the Brandon-Souris byelection.
"If they were prepared to write him a cheque for his legal expenses, it shows that it is a very deep scandal that involves the prime minister and his office."
Mulcair remained steadfast that he would abolish the Senate if an NDP government was elected, calling it a "relic of our colonial past."
Senate reform has been a major plank in Harper’s platform since seeking the country’s top job, Mulcair pointed out, adding that to date he has appointed more than 50 members to the chamber.
"He talked a good game to get elected, but he had no intention of doing any thing serious with the Senate," Mulcair said.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 29, 2013